By Tan Kee Yun
IT is one of the Chinese music industry's biggest nights.
But Taiwan's 20th Golden Melody Awards was littered with one sartorial disaster after another.
The main perpetrators in the crimes of fashion? Male singers who took the metrosexual interpretation to new heights, or lows.
Tutus, butcher's aprons and rolled-up pant legs sat uneasily with leather jackets and tuxedos.
Not that the women did much better.
Singapore's only nominee, Tanya Chua, was lost in a shapeless orange toga dress and later lost the Best Female Singer award to Taiwanese electro rock singer-producer Sandee Chen.
Tanya had won last year, and in 2006 too.
But one beacon of style which stood out was local songbird Stefanie Sun.
Known for her love of jeans and T-shirts, she wowed the red carpet crowd with a high-thigh slit gown that showed off her leg.
The 30-year-old was not up for any awards, but was a presenter for Best Male Singer.
Maybe the new feminine look - she sports shoulder-length hair now, a departure from her short cropped hair - has to do with her recently reported romance with Dutch businessman Nadim Van Der Ros.
Held at the Taipei Arena, Taiwan's indoor venue for large-scale concerts and sporting events, the awards ceremony saw several regional artistes.
Unfortunately, other stars didn't take the black-tie dress code to heart.
Hong Kong's veteran dance trio Grasshoppers, who came as special guest performers, were their usual flamboyant selves; Edmund So with an auburn mohawk, Remus Choy with a dazzling new blonde look, and his twin brother Calvin Choy wearing a leather jacket paired with a white skirt.
On stage, they looked not a day older than they were in the 1990s, showing off their slick, hip-shaking dance moves as they did their classic hits such as Baby I'm Sorry.
Fellow Hong Kong singer Eason Chan, who won the night's biggest award for Best Mandarin Album (for his effort Don't Want To Let Go), paired his jacket with a tutu.
Then, there was Malaysian R&B crooner Gary Cao, whose asymmetrical pant lengths made him look unpolished.
His sleeveless checked shirt looked unfinished.
Casino tycoon Stanley Ho's rocker chick daughter Josie Ho, who recently made headlines when she threw her philandering husband Conroy Chan out of their house, looked like a gothic ice queen in a heavily layered dress and thick lipstick.
All in all, it was a night when indie darlings ruled.
Geeky bespectacled singer-songwriter Crowd Lu was the surprise winner, taking home two awards, for Best Newcomer as well as Best Composer.
The 23-year-old who decided to pick up the guitar in college after a traffic accident left him hospitalised, shot to fame last year with his folksy, unpretentious album of acoustic tunes, 100 Ways of Living.
When he went on stage to collect his award for Best Newcomer, the overjoyed man-child, decked out in an eccentric combination of a striped jacket and shorts, waved to the camera and exclaimed: 'Yeah, daddy and mummy, I'm on television!'
He then joked to his fellow nominees, who included talent contest One Million Star alumni Jam Hsiao, Rachel Liang and Yoga Lin, that 'breakfast's on me tomorrow morning, guys'.
There were also upsets in the Best Vocal Group category.
Hip-hop quartet Da Mouth, who won last year's award, failed to defend their title, losing out to the little-known aboriginal female group Nanwan Sisters.
Lead singer Ashin of rock band Mayday, a hot favourite to win Best Lyricist with two nominations this year (for Like Smoke and The Yet Unbroken Part of My Heart), lost unexpectedly to a young, boyish Wu Yu-Hsuan.
Yu-Hsuan, a full-time student, won for the Hokkien lyrics he wrote for veteran singer Jody Chiang's ballad, In the Trolley Car.
Pop star Jay Chou, who skipped the awards to attend a commercial event, won in three categories despite his absence - for Best Male Singer, Best Music Video and Best Song.
He got a friend to read out an acceptance speech he had prepared.
He wrote that 'since his previous setback six years ago, he had learned to take awards lightly'.
Jay was referring to the year he brought his grandmother to the Golden Melody Awards, as he was nominated in several categories.
However, that night, he eventually went home empty-handed and disappointed.
It was a sad episode in his career, he later admitted in an interview, and from the sadness emerged inspiration to pen his heartfelt hit Grandma.
He added in his prepared speech that 'it wasn't important whether he won or lost, because winning now does not mean that he will be a winner forever'.
There were no surprises in the Best Band category though, as hot favourites Mayday took home the award amid squeals.
And the winners are...
Best Song: Fragrant Rice (Jay Chou)
Best Mandarin Album: Don't Want To Let Go(Eason Chan)
Best Mandarin Male Singer: Jay Chou
Best Mandarin Female Singer: Sandee Chen
Best Band: Mayday
Best Vocal Group: The Nanwan Sisters
Best Newcomer: Crowd Lu
Best Hokkien Male Singer: Weng Li-You
Best Hokkien Female Singer: Huang Yi-Ling
Best Music Video: Mr Magic, directed and sung by Jay Chou
Best Composer: Crowd Lu, 100 Ways of Living
Best Lyricist: Wu Yu-Hsuan, In The Trolley Car, sung by Jody Chiang
This article was first published in The New Paper.